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Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

Beginning a freelance career in the UK pretty much neccessitates moving to London, as it is where the great majority of work is, and where you will gain the best experience in the early years of your career. It can also look pretty daunting from a hundred miles away but in actuality isn't the ordeal you might expect. Almost nobody actually comes from London and, whatever their chosen career, thousands of new graduates move here every year to start out on the career ladder.

Before you do anything, you need to decide a number of things about your living arrangements, like whether to opt for a flatshare or arrange to live with an existing group of friends. If you're moving alone, shared accommodation will be your cheapest option, and will also provide you with an instant bunch of housemates.

Work out your budget beforehand, and don't waste your time looking at places which are more costly than you can afford. Remember to think about how much you need for bills, and also seriously consider how much you're likely to spend on food and going out – you don't want to be in a nice place, but without a few quid spare to treat yourself to a pint or two. When deciding on a location, remember that being further out might not save you very much money in the long run, since travel expenses mount up, and getting home after a night out could prove difficult. Buses are cheaper than the tube, and run into the early hours. It's a good idea to try to locate yourself on a 24-hour bus route, such as the 73 or the 38.

You'll be on a tight budget, so prioritise. This means having a think about what makes you miserable and what you can live with. Work out how much space you need, taking desks, computers, and any equipment you want to set up into account. Decide on the date you're available to move, and remember that sooner can sometimes prove a good bargaining card.

After you've worked out these details, it's best to blitz house hunting over a few hectic days. This will be tiring, but will get it over with quickly. Property in London is exchanged at breakneck pace, especially in the lettings market, so don't book viewings more than two or three days in advance. Internet listings for letting agencies can be misleading, as often a number of people have viewed a property before an agency has had chance to upload the details, and sometimes a good property is used as an online hook to get you calling the agency, where they'll tell you that unfortunately, that property has been let, but they do have others that fit your criteria.  Keep a close eye on websites which provide details from lots of different agencies, like gumtree.co.uk, findaproperty.com and loot.com, as new properties will be listed every hour.

When booking viewings, make sure that you have time to get from one place to the next, and take a contact number for whoever is showing you the property. If you can, it can be a good idea to minimise your start up costs by searching for private ads on sites like gumtree.com. This way, you will get to meet your landlord and the deposit may be smaller, without the extra fees agencies charge. Letting agents are full of hidden costs and extras, but may be able to drive you to a number of properties in a row. Most agencies ask for a deposit of four to six weeks' rent, a holding fee of up to £250 (which you may not get back) plus extra for processing your references, which tends to be around £60-80. Some even charge for writing up an inventory of everything you've paid for, so ensure you're aware of everything they're going to charge you for before you sign for anything. It is however worth bargaining with letting agents, as they rarely list a property at what they are prepared to take for it, and want you to feel you're snapping up a bargain.

Once you've found somewhere, ask about the management of the property, bills and council tax, where these responsibilities lie, and how they are divided – learning what the current tenant pays will be a good guide. Make sure you're aware which bits of furniture come with the property and which are owned by the current tenants. Before signing, read your tenancy agreement carefully to ensure the landlord is responsible for making sure your new place is kept in a habitable condition.

After moving, the first things to sort out are those you'd really like to avoid - banking, council tax, bills and signing up to the electoral register. Change your address with all the relevant companies, and alter the address of your local bank branch, making sure your details are up to date and the bank is aware of your situation as a freelance photographer starting out.

Next, it's time to get your finances fixed up:

Accounts & Money